Kindle connects to Library E-books

25Sep11

Last week, Amazon opened up its Kindle device to library e-books for the first time.  The ability to check out free e-books from libraries has been around for a while, but this will mark a new era in the business for Amazon and its Kindle.  E-books will be made available at more than 11,000 library around the country for Kindle users.

I found this article to fit into the media management theories outlined by Bozena in this week’s reading.  “The management of innovation has been identified as one of the most critical areas of research for the field of media management and economics,” states Bozena. He lists e-books among the examples of technology that “have the potential to significantly disrupt the underlying business models of existing sectors of the media industry” (19).  I would consider the use of “diffusion theory” to understand “consumer behavior in response to new media technologies” (20).

This move by Amazon is good news for public libraries. “Connecting with the Kindle, the most successful device and the largest e-book bookseller in the business, ‘is going to bring millions of readers to the public library,’” says the CEO of OverDrive, a large e-book provider to libraries.

However, traditional book publishers are weary. They are worried the access Kindle users will have to library e-books will affect their traditional sales model. People who used to purchase e-books may switch over to borrowing from libraries.  Currently, two of the six major U.S. publishers “do not make their e-books available to libraries.” One publisher spokesman comments, “we haven’t yet found a business model with which we are comfortable and that we feel properly addresses the long-term interests of our authors.”  Publishers are also sorting out how to frame specific e-book guidelines for libraries; for instance, for how long and the number of times someone can check out an e-book.

Amazon has made a good choice by allowing its Kindle to access library e-books.  This should help their business continue to flourish and perhaps entice new customers to purchase a Kindle.  Library patrons are excited because they can now check out books without having to physically visit a library. However, it is the publishers who will have more to think about concerning their business models as e-book readers become more widespread.  Publishers must consider the consumer effects of this growing technology as well as how they want to maintain relationships with public libraries, which are often seen to be an invaluable part of any community.

-Sarah Dresser

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